We’ve been fortunate that for most of November the weather has been breacaimsir, but when walking into school this week my clothes have been aimliú on a daily basis. If on the off chance you hail from the West Coast of Ireland or Scotland you might recognise those words, if not, you are probably very confused. When observing French or Spanish lessons I often feel like that, I recognise a number of the words, but don’t have the ability to engage or follow the conversation. As a 14-year old I chose not to study a language and have regretted it ever since. I am always impressed by those who can speak one or more additional languages and am still taunted by my niece about the time in Amiens I confidently tried to order, ‘…sept poulets et une pomme de terre s'il vous plaît’ from a French rôtisserie market stall. The fear of getting it wrong led to me getting it spectacularly wrong and I still can’t provide a logical answer as to why I wanted seven potatoes. Or why I asked for seven chickens instead.
The use and study of language has been central to my week. Learning a language and being confident enough to converse with others is hard. And it isn’t just foreign languages that can be challenging. I went to the Theatre Royal in Newcastle on Saturday to see Macbeth and noticed a number of Durham Johnston students in attendance. How confidently did they follow the language of the early 17th Century? Did that affect their enjoyment? Even if you can’t understand something immediately it is important that you are engaged and keep trying. It was an excellent version of the play, but it always takes a moment to adjust to such a different use of English.
Colloquial English can also be a challenge, with many words and phrases being unique to different regions of the British Isles. My childhood vocabulary was shaped by a combination of Northern Irish and West Midlands words and phrases and I’m curious if anyone reading this knows what a Bobowler is? Have you ever been for a dander? Why might you go to the Outdoor? Have you ever been scundered by a situation that you have found yourself in? Have you done a gambol, or played Ackee 1-2-3? Have you ever been chased by a Jasper? It’s possible that those phrases are no longer in common usage; language is fluid and constantly changes. Each year the Oxford English Dictionary adds new words. Of the 2018 entries I was aware of ransomware and mansplaining – words of our time for good or ill – but had never encountered hangry or masstige. Have you? Similarly, when I moved to Durham in 1997, I didn’t know how to react when told by a student that the ‘ket’ that he had bought was ‘shan.’ Are those words still used in the North East? Have they been supplanted by others?
English is the most commonly spoken language in the World, but clearly many people with an excellent grasp of English would be dumbfounded by some of the above terms. The widespread use of English can also make native speakers lazy and disinterested in learning something new. We have had a number of guest speakers present in school this week, explaining how learning a language helps to develop intellect, to access job opportunities and to understand other cultures. Their message was very relevant, but their delivery interested the students and hooked them in. That is equally important, because the study of languages continues to decline in the UK, with some GCSE and A Levels numbers being very small. Gaston Dorren’s ‘Babel, Around the World in 20 Languages’ highlights how studying individual languages can offer a huge insight into how different societies have developed. The book also clearly highlights the dominance of English amongst the most commonly spoken languages. The top 20 are as follows: Vietnamese (85 million), Korean (85m), Tamil (90m), Turkish (90m), Javanese (95m), Persian (110m), Punjabi (125m), Japanese (130m), Swahili (135m), German (200m), French (250m), Malay (275m), Russian (257m), Portuguese (275m), Bengali (275m), Arabic (375m), Hindi-Urdu (550m), Spanish (575m) Mandarin (1.3 billion) and English (1.5bn).
A significant number of those languages are spoken by students and parents at Durham Johnston. One very enthusiastic student in our current Y11 began teaching himself Korean in Y9. This things are possible if you have the enthusiasm and inclination. By learning other languages, we can identify cultural similarities and differences, something that can only be viewed in a positive light. At a recent language event I was asked to identify the noises made by dogs, mice and bees amongst other creatures. I was unaware that dogs go blaf, wan, hev and wong. That mice go pip-pip, squitt and jjik. Or that bees boong. It is always good to be made aware that the things that we often take for granted are not universal.
At the heart of all success is good communication and, as things change globally in sometimes quite worrying ways, the more we can converse with others and understand their cultural idiosyncrasies the better off we will be. It is important to understand your own culture, but to also be interested in the culture of others. By doing so we can avoid stereotyping others simply because of their country of origin and can learn a huge amount about the wider world. If you have never had a particular interest in languages, start with some of the words and phrases in this bulletin. What do they mean?
Tá deireadh seachtaine maith agat!
An tUasal.Ó Súilleabháin
The Immunisation Team routinely provides the recommended protection to year 9 pupils against:
Pupils in Durham, Darlington and Teesside secondary schools will be offered these immunisations during the spring term 2019.
If you wish for your child to have these vaccines please complete an electronic consent form by using the following link:
(Please note that this can be completed on smart phones and tablets)
If you would like further information regarding these immunisations, please see the following link:
If you have any questions regarding this or do not have internet access or difficulty completing the form please contact the Childhood Immunisation Team for Durham, Darlington and Teesside on telephone number 0300 003 0013.
Mrs J Coady, Attendance & Welfare Manager
The County of Durham School Benevolent Fund provides grants for families living within the County Durham area to purchase school shoes and coats for children in Primary and Secondary School. Applicants must be in receipt of one of the benefits listed in the guidance notes and application form and evidence of the benefit must be sent with the application form to:
Mrs A Overfield
Thornhill Primary School
For guidance please refer to the reverse of the application form or telephone 01388 772906 for further information.
Mrs Coady, Attendance & Welfare Manager
Poetry By Heart
After entering a ‘Poetry By heart’ competition, Alina Krokhina was awarded the opportunity to go on an all-expenses paid Battlefields Trip. This is what she said about it:
"I enjoyed visiting the memorials, like Vimy Ridge and the Thiepval Memorial. These made me consider the importance of remembrance, even after 100 years, and I was amazed by the size and beauty of these memorials. The craters caused by shells at Vimy Ridge deeply shook me, and we later visited the battlefield at the Somme where the event was explained to us, and this made me realise the extent of the catastrophe that occurred.
I particularly liked going to attend the Last Post at Menin Gate because the event was very large and many people came to see it. The many names on the walls caused me to appreciate the mass amount of losses that people experienced. I also experienced this realisation at the Notre Dame de Lorette at the Ring of Remembrance, where many soldiers’ names were put on the walls.
Overall, I loved this trip and it made me recognise the true horror of the First World War and how it affected many ordinary lives. One man’s death affects a wife, children, parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters. Imagine how many people’s lives were affected when millions of people died. I gained knowledge from the Memorial Museum at Passchendaele and understood how terrifying it was for soldiers who fought and what they experienced. The weather was very cold, and a little off-putting, but I would still recommend this trip to anyone".
Earlier this term, Mrs Tennant held a fantasy writing competition with Year 7 pupils. It was very close, but the Year 13 English Language students picked their winner. The winner of the fantasy story competition is Eildh Huddart . Eildh opted for a hard back copy of 'Treasure Island' as her book of choice. Well done Eildh!
Mrs Walton, KS3 English Co-ordinator
On Tuesday this week, many of our Year 9 and Year 11 language students took part in a languages event held in school.
Pupils listened to a number of speakers talking about the importance of languages in their lives, experiences and careers. Students from Durham and Newcastle Universities spoke about their degrees, their year abroad and career paths. We were also lucky enough to have a professional Translator speak to the students about her career and experiences travelling.
The speakers were inspirational and the students had the opportunity to ask questions.
We hope we have inspired more of our students to consider making languages part of their future plans.
Mrs Jackson, Languages Enrichment Co-ordinator
After recently completing a unit of work using the BBC Micro:bits we’ve been really impressed with a group of Year 8s who enjoyed it so much they wanted to spend more time working on the devices. They asked if they could set up a lunch time club and over the past two weeks have been learning how to code the Micro:bits to send messages to each other’s devices. Now that they have done this, they are working using them to control and power a remote control car/buggy.
Well done Y8!
Mr Garside, Computing Department
Primary Pupils Visit
This week the Maths Department was pleased to welcome some Year 6 girls from three of our local primary schools for two hours of maths challenges.
The aim of the session was to give the pupils a range of puzzles and investigations to stimulate mathematical thinking and discussion, increase confidence, and to have fun solving problems.
Mr Cooke and three helpers from Y12 (Bridie Cahill, Lily Nicholson and Meghan Dixon) introduced puzzles involving number chains, factors and multiples, and other number challenges. Our Y12 helpers were immensely useful and importantly acted as role models and ambassadors for women in mathematics.
The feedback we had from the children was very positive, and we hope they really enjoyed their visit – we look forward to welcoming many of the pupils back in the future.
Mr Cook, Maths Department
Senior Maths Team Challenge
On Thursday 22nd October four students travelled to Framwellgate School Durham to compete in the Regional Heat of the Senior Mathematics Team Challenge. The students took part in a group problem solving round, a cross number round and a shuttle round. The team performed very well, coming second overall. They were commended by the competition organisers for their very high score, only losing out on the top spot as another team achieved full marks.
Congratulations to all four students involved.
Mr Patternson, Maths Department
Sixth Form Notice - 26 November 2018
Sixth Form Societies 2018
Sixth Form students have the opportunity to join our extensive range of student-led societies which meet regularly during lunchtime and after school each week.
We tell students "Not something here for you? Start one"
Please click here to see what societies are currently offered.
Environmental Club Competition
House teams – the environmental club needs your help, they are in very short supply of 2 litre plastic bottles.
For competition information please click here.
Please support the cause – house points will be awarded to forms with the highest number of entries.
Miss Forbes & Mr Bowman
DJ House Leaders Team 2018
After a very successful year for the VIth form house leaders it was time to recruit new like-minded people! After a series of meetings, formal applications and shortlisting we selected the new additions. The team has now doubled in size and we look forward to another eventful year!
Congratulations and welcome to the DJ House Leaders team.
What’s new for 2018/2019?……Watch this space!
Miss L Forbes, Senior teacher
Ensemble rehearsals will continue as normal for the next two weeks, although there will of course be no Big Band rehearsal on Friday 30th.
Tickets for the first part of the concert have now sold out and there are only 11 tickets available for the second half. People without tickets will be able to sit in the atrium and listen from there, with some limited, side-on view. If you have tickets that you no longer require, please return them to the Music Department for refund and these can then be sold to those on the waiting list.
Tuesday 11th Dec
2.45 - First Half Rehearsal - please be prepared to stay until 4.00, if necessary.
This is for Wind Band, Junior Orchestra, Junior Choir.
Wednesday 12th Dec
2.45 – Second Half Rehearsal - please be prepared to say until 4.00, if necessary.
This is for Senior Choir, Senior Orchestra, Chamber Choir and DJ Brass.*
(*Big Band will be performing in the second half of the concert and their final rehearsal will be on Friday 7th at 2.45)
The Concert – Thursday 13th December
This starts at 6.30. All participating students need to be in school by 6.15 and please could all audience members be seated in James Hall by 6.25. If you also have a ticket for the second part, please also surrender your ticket for a second half programme to save you needing the leave the hall in the brief interval between parts one and two.
We will ask everyone that does not have a programme for the second part to vacate the hall at the end of the first part and then those with tickets for second part will be admitted in time for the second half to start around 7.30. Please could students who are performing in the second half be in school by 7.20.
This is school uniform without jumpers or blazers as the hall gets rather warm. Tinsel and other festive adornments are welcome, as long as they don’t stop instruments working correctly.
Samling Academy Taster Day – Saturday 12 January 2019, Northumbria University
As you may know, Samling Academy exists to develop the next generation of classical singers in the North East of England. Each year a number of young people aged 14 to 19 in this region are benefiting from their unique training and performance opportunities. More information about Samling Academy can be found on our website. The taster day on 12th January is aimed at pupils in Years 8–12 and it is completely free for them to attend. Please take a look on their website, or contact me for further information.
Mr Holmes, Subject Leader for Music
Durham Johnston PE department had some excellent news on Friday as the "School Sports" magazine announced the top 100 state sporting schools of 2018. We were placed 14th in the country with most of the schools above us either grammar schools or single sex schools from the south.
As the article says "an indication of just how difficult it is to reach the list can be seen when you realise that just reaching the top 30 puts you in the top 1% of sporting schools in the country”. This is a great achievement acknowledging the talent, hard work and dedication of the students and staff.
On Monday our Year 8 cricket team travelled to Parkview for the final game of the indoor season. This was another exciting close game which went to the last over before Thomas Moles hit the winning runs to give us victory.
Also on Monday our U16 basketball team were in Newcastle taking on St Cuthbert’s in the first group game of the English Schools competition. This was always going to be a difficult game. We kept the game close in the first half reaching half-time only 5 points behind. However we couldn’t close the gap in the second half losing by 14 points.
On Tuesday our U16 girls football team travelled to Carlisle for the 3rd round of the National cup. After the two hour journey in horrendous conditions the girls came out fighting. By half time the girls were 4-0 up with 2 goals from Ellie Reid and another two from Emily Salmon. The whole team played outstanding football and were commended by staff from Carlisle.
Also on Tuesday our U14 girls basketball team took on Gosforth in a friendly. We struggled to score against a big team and despite winning by 2 points at half-time we lost a good game by 10 points.
There was better news for our basketball teams on Wednesday as our U19 team played Tyne Met College in the first group game of the English Schools Cup. We had a slow start but soon took control playing some excellent basketball to lead by 15 points at half-time. We continued to play in the second half going on to win 82 – 50.
Last night our U15 girls football team overcame Trinity College in the English Schools Cup so we now progress to the 4th round where we face Macmillan Academy next Thursday.
Our 7 & 8 netball teams were at Durham High last night. Unfortunately the High School had doubled booked the fixtures so we used the opportunity for some friendly practice after getting the two victories confirmed against their B teams.
Finally good luck tomorrow to our Junior boy and girl cross-country teams who are competing in the National Schools cross-country finals. They have travelled down to Suffolk today in preparation for the races tomorrow which take place at Woodbridge School. We will be competing against the top 24 schools in the country and hoping to produce some excellent performances.
Mr Hopper, Subject Leader for PE
A free Christmas event on your doorstep! Nevilles Cross Chrismas Festival based at Ustinov college on Friday 30 November 15:00 - 18:30. Please come, and please do register your interest on the Facebook event too! (Donation required)
Featuring 'Johnston Brass,' Durham District Wind band and the Durham Music Service Flute choir
Hot food, (Churros, Pizza) SERVED TIL 7PM!
Live music, (Durham Johnsons Brass band and Durham Music Service)
Dancing LED stickmen
Free face painting and bling bar
Illuminate festive characters
A lantern parade to St Johns Church (free lantern to decorate)
Candlelit Choir at Church (17:30 - 18:00)
Free mince pie, treat and hot drink at church.
This event is 100% volunteer-led, the event is designed to promote community cohesion and give you a chance to feedback on how to make NX more exciting and interesting.
Capital equipment purchased for the event will be available to the local schools and community group to use free of charge.
Following last year's pilot event we started a gardening, knitting and world kitchen club.
Funding by County Durham Community Foundation and the Big Lottery.
Please click on the link below for updated information on extra-curricular activities offered during 1st and 2nd lunch and after school.